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Politics and Government

Safety a top concern as Oswego redesigns 104 corridor

Payne Horning
Oswego resident Brie Martinez circles areas of concern for pedestrians on a map of downtown Oswego.

Officials working on a project to revitalize the 3.8 miles of State Route 104 that runs through the city of Oswego say improving the road's safety is a chief concern among residents. The 104 streetscape project was intended to enhance the aesthetics of the road and its surrounding sidewalks and businesses, but feedback from locals is mostly centered around safety.

"A lot of people have said verbatim crossing 104 is like taking your life into your own hands," said Kimberly Baptiste, a regional manager for Bergmann Associates, the firm consulting the city on the project's design.

Resident Brie Martinez has encountered those problems. She said the portion of Route 104 that cuts through the city's downtown is not ideal for walking around.

"It’s very vehicle friendly," Martinez said. "Downtown, some of the smaller businesses have a lack of parking or parking there. Getting in and out of your car can be quite dangerous too and there’s also a problem with the respect of pedestrians and bicyclers in this town."

In order to drive more foot traffic downtown, as the 104 streetscape project aims to do, resident Paul Stewart said the city needs to target accessibility first.

"You need to deal with the fact that it’s very difficult to navigate 104 as a pedestrian, if you want to improve the business climate, you want to make it accessible to people that walk, people that bike, people that drive," Stewart said.

Since 2013, 21 pedestrians have been struck by vehicles on the portion of State Route 104 within the city's limits, according to the Oswego Police Department. Baptiste said the city can curb these safety issues through the 104 redesign by slowing down traffic speed with medians and widening sidewalks to shorten the crosswalks.